Congress secures allies for Rajya Sabha polls, aims to challenge BJP-led NDA in 2019 elections

NEW DELHI: The Congress may lose a few seats in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, but the entire process is likely to be favourable for the party. While Congress’ tally in the Rajya Sabha will come down, the party will have more allies as it tries to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

The Rahul Gandhi-led party is getting the support of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand. TMC chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced her party’s support to Congress Rajya Sabha nominee Abhishek Manu Singhvi. She said the TMC is supporting Singhvi because he has worked with them “for the greater interest of the state”.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, on the other hand, joined hands with Congress in Jharkhand for the Rajya Sabha polls after several days of parleys. Discussions for an alliance for the Rajya Sabha were held at the highest level figuring Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JMM executive president Hemant Soren in Delhi. The Congress is pinning its hopes on one out of the two Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand. Congress Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh and state Congress chief Ajoy Kumar confirmed that the name of the candidate from Jharkhand will be announced soon. 

Though the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are fighting the bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur together, it is likely that the two parties along with the Congress will support each other in the Rajya Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh. An alliance for Rajya Sabha polls is likely to be favourable to mount a challenge to the NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress is likely to support BSP’s lone candidate in UP so that they are able to seal the deal for 2019. The grand old party is expected to field 12 candidates for the polls, though the names have not been announced yet.  

In Madhya Pradesh too, the BSP will back the Congress while in Assam, Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front has pledged its support to the Congress. 

Just a day after the Rajya Sabha polls, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will be holding a dinner on March 13 where she has invited leaders of nearly 14 opposition parties. The step is being viewed as Congress’ outreach towards the opposition, laying the foundation of a united front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “It would not only be a dinner, but also showcase the strength of Opposition parties who would like to come together to form a front against the misrule of BJP,” a senior Congress leader said. 

Sonia’s invitation comes at a time when talk of a ‘non-BJP, non-Congress’ front is doing the rounds following a proposal by TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao for a national consultation process on the matter. Several leaders, including Mamata Banerjee, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren of the JMM have extended support to Rao’s proposal, according to the TRS.